eolesen wrote: ↑Tue Oct 19, 2021 11:39 am
This will be interesting to watch. The landowners claim is that eminent domain only applies to operating railroads. TCR doesn't have a single mile of track or rolling stock, so seizing land for a speculative railroad isn't allowed.
The initial trial court agreed. The Appellate court applied intent and overturned. SCOTX will have to rule on intent/interpretation vs. the law as written.
My guess... if the court's mix of originalist jurists (law as written supercedes intent) is what I think it is, TCR loses.
Here's the law in question as it is written,
https://codes.findlaw.com/tx/transporta ... 2-002.html
"Texas Transportation Code - TRANSP § 112.002. General Rights of Railroads
(a) A railroad company has the right to succession.
(b) A railroad company may:
(1) sue, be sued, plead, and be impleaded in its corporate name;
(2) have and use a seal and alter the seal at will;
(3) receive and convey persons and property on its railway by any mechanical power, including the use of steam;
(4) regulate the time and manner in which, and the compensation for which, passengers and property are transported, subject to the provisions of law;
(5) exercise the power of eminent domain for the purposes prescribed by this subtitle or Subtitle D;
(6) purchase, hold, and use all property as necessary for the construction and use of its railway, stations, and other accommodations necessary to accomplish company objectives, and convey that property when no longer required for railway use; and
(7) take, hold, and use property granted to the company to aid in the construction and use of its railway, and convey that property in a manner consistent with the terms of the grant when the property is no longer required for railway use."
No intent required, it is right there in plain text.
But that is not what the lawsuit is about, the key legal issue is whether Texas Central qualifies as a “railroad company” or an “interurban electric railway,” and whether an entity must show reasonable probability of project completion to invoke eminent domain authority.
https://codes.findlaw.com/tx/transporta ... 1-002.html
"Texas Transportation Code - TRANSP § 81.002. Applicability
In this title, a reference to a railroad company includes:
(1) a railroad incorporated before September 1, 2007, under former Title 112, Revised Statutes; or
(2) any other legal entity operating a railroad, including an entity organized under the Texas Business Corporation Act or the Texas Corporation Law provisions of the Business Organizations Code."
https://codes.findlaw.com/tx/transporta ... 1-031.html
Texas Transportation Code - TRANSP § 131.031. Definition
In this subchapter, “interurban railway” means an electric or other interurban line of railway in this state.
It should be noted Texas Central was incorporated after September 1, 2007.
It should also be noted that Texas Central was first incorporated in 2009 under Texas law.
Note the present tense of the verb "operating". In almost all "common law" nations around the world, including Texas and the United States of America, present tense verbs also includes future tense.
Is that interpretation or a default clear reading of the text?
Miles argument is that Texas Central is not an operating railroad because they have not taken steps to lay track, buy trains, or run trains. Huh? DEIS, EIS, design, construction and operating contracts signed are not taking any steps to run a railroad?
The plain text reading of an interurban railroad states electric powered trains. What do you think 25KV, 60 Hz power is? Steam, coal, gasoline, diesel, wood, etc.? No, it is electricity, nothing else.
Another Miles argument is that the intent of the interurban laws were not for high speed trains as we know it today. But back in the day, electric powered interurbans were the fastest way to get from Denison all the way to Waco. FYI, that is a distance per Google of 172 miles, almost as far as the 240 miles between Dallas and Houston.
The people using interpretation liberties with the law are those landowners opposing selling their land, imho. Let's wait and see what the Texas Supreme Court rules next year.